Reflections: Arth by Mahesh Bhatt


When I was of around seven or eight years old, my mum was watching this movie on a rented cassette on our cassette player. It was afternoon time and I don't recall what exactly the conversation between my mum and the maid but something seemed fishy about it as she asked me to go to the bedroom and sleep after my afternoon lunch. Of course I wasn't of an age that I could understand what exactly was being spoken but it registered the name of the movie in my head. The famous songs of the movie, "Tum Itna Jo", "Jhuki Jhuki si Nazar" and others have become very famous and have listened to them often, without realizing that they were of this movie. Often, a random visit to a Crossword store often results in you buying things which you otherwise won't come across.

The movie starts with Pooja (Mrs. Shabana Azmi) reading in a pensive mood at dawn. Her husband Inder (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) returns from a supposedly busy schedule of meetings and discussions with his clients, for whom he makes ad films and is a "cinematic genius". Pooja is an orphan and this has shaped her desires - all she wants from husband is a home which she can call of her own. Inder, usually a short tempered guy, finally buys a home for her. But their marriage is not all hunky dory. Inder is having an affair with Kavita (Smita Patil), who is a glamorous actress. Inder is being torn apart by the dubious life he is living and confesses to Pooja about his affair.

Inder moves out and starts living with Kavita while Pooja, on discovering that the home which she calls her own, was partly bought by Inder by Kavita's money, starts living in a working women's hostel. Kavita over time becomes paranoid and fears that Pooja is intruding in her life and keeps getting in between her and Inder. (Mahesh Bhatt is trying to depict her as schizophrenic like Parveen Babi - the actress with whom he had an affiar. This movie is semi-autobiographical on Mahesh Bhatt's life). Kavita utltimately decides on not marrying Inder for the concept of marriage is no more a promise of security for her, while Kavita, who likes Raj (Raj Kiran) but doesn't accept his proposal, also doesn't accept him back in her life and adopts the young daughter of her maid (Rohini Hattangadi).

The performance of Mrs. Shabana Azmi was the best - transitioning ethereally between the Pooja who is happiest on getting into her own home, then the Pooja who is heartbroken because of Inder's moving out, and then the Pooja who rediscovers the joys of life with Raj. Second would be of Smita Patil who so realistically portrays the fear of the unknown on her face and acts like a child whenever Inder wants to go out of the home. Kulbhushan and Rohini are also good as always.

The two strongest scenes are: the song Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho (sung by Jagjit Singh) by Raj on Pooja's birthday; and Raj's letting go of Pooja who wants to start her life anew with her adopted daughter and wants to make her name as Pooja with no other names attached to hers. It is a movie which makes one question the accepted concepts of happiness, freedom and meaning of life.

(Raj Kiran, it was reported couple of years ago, was in a mental asylum in Atlanta after his wife deserted him and took their child away)


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